US embassy cable - 06HONGKONG817

2006 TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT: HONG KONG

Identifier: 06HONGKONG817
Wikileaks: View 06HONGKONG817 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Hong Kong
Created: 2006-02-28 06:23:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: PHUM PINR PGOV HK CH KCRM KWMN SMIG KFRD
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO0960
PP RUEHCN
DE RUEHHK #0817/01 0590623
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 280623Z FEB 06
FM AMCONSUL HONG KONG
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5144
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK PRIORITY 9068
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 1504
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA PRIORITY 1579
RUEHML/AMEMBASSY MANILA PRIORITY 2727
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 0360
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 4980
RUEHUM/AMEMBASSY ULAANBAATAR PRIORITY 0950
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK PRIORITY 0001
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5145
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 11 HONG KONG 000817 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
NSC FOR DENNIS WILDER 
DEPT FOR EAP/CM, G/TIP, G, INL, DRL, PRM, IWI, EAP/RSP 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM, PINR, PGOV, HK, CH, KCRM, KWMN, SMIG, KFRD, 
ASEC, PREF, ELAB 
SUBJECT: 2006 TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT: HONG KONG 
 
REF: A. SECSTATE 003836 
     B. HONG KONG 0216 
     C. 04 HONG KONG 6213 
     D. 04 HONG KONG 3675 
     E. 04 HONG KONG 2840 
     F. 04 HONG KONG 6987 
 
HONG KONG 00000817  001.2 OF 011 
 
 
1. (SBU) Hong Kong is in compliance with the standards 
described in Ref A for the elimination of trafficking in 
persons.  There has been further improvement over the past 
year in those areas that have, for the past five years, 
justified Hong Kong's inclusion on the Department's "Tier 1" 
list.  The Government has made steady improvement in its 
ability to identify victims, document their cases, and help 
them find assistance.  Hong Kong's efforts to fight 
trafficking -- as outlined below and in previous reporting -- 
and its continued efforts to improve in all areas of 
prevention, prosecution, and protection, place Hong Kong 
squarely in the category of Tier 1 countries in at least 
minimum compliance with the standards for the elimination of 
trafficking in persons. (Refs B, C, D, E, and F) 
 
Overview of Trafficking Problem 
------------------------------- 
 
2. (SBU) An international air, sea and land traffic hub, 
handling over 50 million travelers and 20 million ocean-going 
shipping containers annually, located in a migrant-producing 
region, Hong Kong is -- despite vigorous counter-efforts -- a 
place through which would-be illegal migrants seek to pass on 
their way from China and other nations to third countries. 
In most cases, these migrants transit Hong Kong of their own 
volition on fraudulent documents that they have purchased. 
No one knows how many of the intending illegal migrants who 
transit Hong Kong are trafficked.  However, given that these 
migrants often are assisted in their travel by human 
smuggling organizations, and given what is known about the 
working conditions of most PRC-origin illegal immigrants who 
reach their destinations in the United States or elsewhere, 
it is reasonable to suspect that some of these people are 
"trafficked" in the sense that they are subjected to debt 
bondage, forced prostitution, and/or forced labor upon 
arrival in the destination countries.  In this sense, the 
"trafficking" activities can take place largely in the United 
States or other destination countries. 
 
3. (SBU) Hong Kong's wealthy society is also a destination 
point for intending migrants, including a relatively small 
number who may fit the broad definition of "trafficked 
persons" used for this report.  Each year, Hong Kong law 
enforcement authorities catch several thousand illegal 
immigrants, many with forged travel documents, attempting to 
enter or transit Hong Kong.  While Hong Kong law enforcement 
officials are trained to identify trafficking cases, it is 
possible that a small number of these illegal immigrants are 
trafficking victims. 
 
4. (SBU) In response to our request for more complete 
documentation of trafficking cases, Hong Kong authorities in 
2004 started to maintain case documentation on suspected 
trafficked persons, including details of the arrests, 
processing and sentencing.  This year, the Hong Kong Security 
Bureau provided us with three such documented cases.  Case 1: 
In August 2005, police arrested 18 mainland prostitutes and 
one mainland male during an anti-vice raid.  Four of the 
prostitutes claimed they were brought to Hong Kong by the 
male.  The male was arrested on suspicion of trafficking in 
persons but not charged due to lack of evidence.  All the 
prostitutes were repatriated to the mainland.  Case 2: In 
August 2005, police arrested a mainland prostitute on 
immigration charges during an anti-vice raid.  The prostitute 
 
HONG KONG 00000817  002.2 OF 011 
 
 
claimed that a second prostitute had accompanied her to Hong 
Kong from the mainland and arranged for her prostitution. 
The second prostitute was arrested, but no charges were filed 
after the victim refused to testify.  The first prostitute 
was repatriated to the mainland.  Case 3:  In November 2005, 
police arrested two prostitutes during an anti-vice raid. 
The prostitutes claimed that a Chinese female had brought 
them to Hong Kong for the purpose of prostitution.  The 
Chinese female was arrested and charged with "living off the 
earning of prostitution" and "aiding and abetting breech of 
condition of stay."  The trail is scheduled for March 2006. 
The two prostitutes were repatriated to the mainland.  Police 
said that in each of these cases the women entered Hong Kong 
on their own volition, and that no force, fraud or coercion 
was reported or suspected. 
 
5. (SBU) Hong Kong authorities also provided us with the 
details of two other possible trafficking cases where 
stowaways were apprehended in the U.S. inside shipping 
containers that were aboard vessels that transited Hong Kong. 
 Case 1: In January 2005, 32 Chinese male stowaways were 
intercepted at the port of Los Angeles in two containers that 
had been loaded in Shekou, China.  The investigation revealed 
that the men had remained on board during the vessel's stop 
in Hong Kong.  Case 2: In April 2005, 29 Chinese male 
stowaways were intercepted at the port of Los Angeles in two 
containers that had been loaded in Shekou, China.  The 
investigation revealed that the stowaways had remained on 
board during the vessel's stop in Hong Kong. 
 
6. (SBU) The Security Bureau has also instructed its field 
offices to carefully document cases in which trafficking is 
suspected.  Though the data provided by the Government are 
not yet as comprehensive as we might like, by identification 
and documentation of cases of possible trafficking-related 
activities, the Government has taken steps to improve its 
data collection capabilities and increase front-line 
awareness of possible trafficking activities.  Various Hong 
Kong Government offices, human rights and other NGOs, 
academics, and the media often do not agree on what 
constitutes trafficking; nevertheless, the information 
available from these sources regarding aspects of possible 
trafficking and related human smuggling is generally reliable. 
 
7. (SBU) No major changes in the direction or magnitude of 
trafficking have been evident over the last year.  Women from 
mainland China, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere continued to 
travel to Hong Kong of their own volition to engage in 
prostitution.  Criminal organizations reportedly provided 
assistance for some of these women to travel from their home 
countries, enter Hong Kong, and/or establish themselves in 
the city.  The terms of repayment for such "employment 
assistance" can reportedly be onerous, often more onerous 
than the women had been led to believe.  Living and working 
conditions also can be problematic, according to NGO and 
press reports, involving close monitoring )- even 
imprisonment -- during off hours, crowded boarding 
arrangements, confiscated identity documents, and long 
working hours.  The authorities investigate reports of such 
activities promptly.  Organizers of prostitution rings, 
whether or not involving trafficked persons, are prosecuted 
under laws that criminalize profiting from the proceeds of 
another person's prostitution. 
 
8. (SBU) Some women reportedly come to Hong Kong for legal 
employment, but find themselves deliberately placed in a 
situation by their employer that pressures them into turning 
to prostitution.  For example, some women recruited to 
perform as dancers in nightclubs find it difficult to repay 
the debts incurred in coming to Hong Kong without 
supplementing their basic salaries.  Although usually not 
 
HONG KONG 00000817  003.2 OF 011 
 
 
coerced into prostitution, many of these women reportedly 
find it difficult to pursue alternative employment.  The 
Government reports that it rarely encounters cases where 
visitors were forced to practice prostitution against their 
will.  A 2004 study by a Hong Kong University (HKU) 
researcher identified 30 cases of forced prostitution that 
had been reported in the ten-year period from 1990-2000.  All 
of these cases involved women who had been deceived into 
coming to Hong Kong in the belief that they would be engaging 
in other types of employment.  Over the past five years, the 
Hong Kong Government has identified an average of 2-3 cases 
of forced prostitution per year )- a figure roughly 
consistent with the HKU study.  Since 1995, the Hong Kong 
Government has successfully prosecuted several persons for 
their involvement in trafficking-related activities. 
 
9. (SBU) Visitors to Hong Kong found to be engaged in 
prostitution are prosecuted for the offense of "breach of 
condition of stay" under the Immigration Ordinance.  All but 
a couple of these visitors each year are determined to have 
come to Hong Kong voluntarily and knowingly engaged in 
illegal prostitution activities.  Through heightened 
awareness and improved documentation in recent years, Hong 
Kong officials have improved their ability to identify the 
small number of possible trafficking victims among these 
illegal immigrants. 
 
10. (SBU) The U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong sees two or three 
cases a year involving attempts to smuggle children to the 
U.S. through Hong Kong International Airport.  These appear 
to be "family reunification" cases, but we cannot rule out 
the possibility that some may fit the definition of 
trafficking in persons.  The typical case involves an adult 
female attempting to transit through Hong Kong from the PRC 
with a small child, the latter of whom presents a U.S. 
passport with a photo of an infant, which makes 
identification impossible. The accompanying adult usually 
describes herself as an "aunty" and claims she is taking the 
child back to the U.S. to be reunited with illegal alien 
parents.  The adult often claims the child was sent to live 
with relatives in China for language and cultural reasons and 
is now going back to the United States.  Because we cannot 
positively identify the child, the Hong Kong Government's 
policy is to send the woman and child back to the PRC.  The 
Hong Kong Immigration Department effectively prohibits 
transit through Hong Kong without proper identification.  In 
such cases, we advise the adult to return to her local U.S. 
consulate in the PRC to have the child's identity verified. 
However, in about a third of these cases (approximately one 
case per year, on average) the individuals fail to 
subsequently report to the appropriate consulate.  Therefore, 
in these cases, we do not know if the children involved were 
being trafficked. 
 
11. (SBU) Hong Kong labor and other laws, which provide equal 
protection to resident and imported workers alike, protect 
these workers from maltreatment, and they are vigorously 
enforced.  Hong Kong's Employment Ordinance provides that 
employers who violate contract terms or minimum wage 
regulations (the latter of which apply only to foreign 
domestic workers) can be fined and imprisoned.  That said, 
many domestics are afraid to complain, or are unaware of 
their rights.  There have reportedly been several cases in 
recent years of domestic workers successfully bringing 
charges against employers for maltreatment, including for 
physical and sexual abuse.  In several of these cases, the 
employer received prison time for the offense. 
 
12. (SBU) Hong Kong maintains effective border and 
immigration controls.  The entire 35-kilometer-long border 
with mainland China is a closed and guarded area.  A 
 
HONG KONG 00000817  004.2 OF 011 
 
 
129-officer Quick Response Force patrols the border fence 24 
hours a day using advanced technology equipment.  The Customs 
and Excise Department has stationed 2,400 officers at Hong 
Kong International Airport, boundary points, major container 
terminals, and the waters off Hong Kong specifically to 
combat human smuggling and the transporting of illegal 
migrants.  The sea boundary is policed by the Marine Police, 
which has a fleet of 151 watercraft.  Customs conducts 
regular harbor and container checks using advanced 
technology.  Every year more than 10,000 cargo containers are 
inspected.  Customs launches patrol Hong Kong waters and 
intercept suspicious vessels to conduct searches. 
Immigration officials, in addition to enforcing standard 
entry and exit regulations, conduct special operations at the 
airport, patrolling in plain clothes even in transit areas, 
inspecting travel documents and conducting inquiries and 
investigations.  A Special Investigative Section of the 
Immigration Department investigates organized migrant 
trafficking and works closely with mainland China and foreign 
counterparts.  The Government also counters human smuggling 
through its "watch out" program, which involves a close 
working relationship with container terminal operators, 
shipping companies and cargo handlers. 
 
13. (SBU) The Government devotes significant resources to 
combat migrant smuggling and trafficking.  Immigration, 
customs and police departments are all well trained and 
equipped to detect and investigate trafficking-related 
criminal activities and arrest the perpetrators.  The 
Government conducts regular training on the use of 
specialized equipment, such as mobile x-ray vehicle scanning 
systems, to inspect outbound containers, and facial 
recognition equipment to help verify the identity of new 
arrivals. 
 
14. (SBU) Hong Kong's Anti-Illegal Migration Agency (AIM) 
uses professional and sophisticated intelligence analysis 
mechanisms in concert with local, mainland, and foreign 
counterparts to counter illegal migration and prevent Hong 
Kong from being abused as a transit point by human 
traffickers.  The AIM conducts special operations, including 
document spot-checks, with 61 plain-clothes investigators at 
Hong Kong International Airport.  Many  intending illegal 
immigrants transit Hong Kong using legitimate travel 
documents to pass Hong Kong's strict controls, but exchange 
them during subsequent transit stops prior to arrival at 
their destinations. 
 
15. (SBU) The Organized Crime and Triad Bureau of the Hong 
Kong Police produces a biannual report on human smuggling for 
the Joint Investigation Team on Human Smuggling.  This report 
serves as an update on changing tactics used by those engaged 
in trafficking and smuggling activities.  The Government 
regularly shares information on local trafficking and 
smuggling patterns with mainland China and foreign law 
enforcement entities, including the United States. 
 
16. (SBU) There is no evidence, or even any allegation, that 
Government officials facilitate, condone, or are otherwise 
complicit in trafficking activities.  Anti-bribery and 
anti-corruption laws are strictly and effectively enforced. 
 
17. (SBU) Hong Kong is not a significant point of origin for 
trafficking. 
 
18. (SBU) There is no particular limitation on the 
Government's ability to combat trafficking where Hong Kong is 
a destination.  However, trafficking-related activities that 
skirt the edge of -- but do not violate -- the law, and 
victims' desperation, complicity, fear and/or ignorance of 
their rights make complete elimination of the problem very 
 
HONG KONG 00000817  005.2 OF 011 
 
 
difficult. 
 
Hong Kong's Efforts in Preventing and Combating Trafficking 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
 
19. (SBU) The Hong Kong Government recognizes that human 
smuggling through its territory, some of which could involve 
trafficking, is a problem that must be addressed.  As a busy 
and convenient sea/air hub, Hong Kong is vulnerable to human 
trafficking.  Prosecutions over the years show a willingness 
and ability to combat trafficking when it is identified. 
Hong Kong laws and law enforcement practices provide the 
authorities the tools to detect and prohibit various aspects 
of, and criminal behavior related to, trafficking in persons, 
even as the Government considers the broadened definition of 
trafficking as still under debate internationally.  In the 
context of significant illegal immigration to and through 
Hong Kong, authorities are improving their ability to 
identify those few who may become victims of trafficking. 
 
20. (SBU) The Security Bureau has policy responsibility for 
illegal migration and trafficking in persons and oversees the 
police, customs and immigration departments, which are 
responsible for enforcing laws that combat trafficking.  Law 
enforcement agencies liaise and cooperate with mainland China 
and foreign authorities in facilitating intelligence exchange 
on forgery and migrant smuggling syndicates and related 
trends.  Hong Kong immigration and police officials regularly 
participate in international seminars on human smuggling, 
document fraud, transnational organized crime, and 
immigration control.  Hong Kong authorities actively 
cooperate with other law enforcement agencies in the region 
and with Interpol on illegal immigration and trafficking 
issues.  The Government maintains links to the UN High 
Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization 
for Migration, both of which have offices in Hong Kong. 
 
21. (SBU) The Joint Investigative Team on Human Smuggling, 
formed in 1998 to take action against organized human 
smuggling, coordinates Police, Immigration and Customs 
Department enforcement efforts and maintains links with 
industries and with local and international bodies involved 
in combating human smuggling.  The Security Bureau has the 
lead policy responsibility over human smuggling issues, 
including trafficking in persons.  In addition, the Home 
Affairs Department, the Labor Department, and other 
government Departments and Bureaus have responsibility for 
various aspects of trafficking in persons.  The Independent 
Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has since 1974 combated 
corruption through effective law enforcement, education and 
prevention in its mission to keep Hong Kong "fair, just, 
stable, and prosperous." 
 
22. (SBU) Foreign dometic helpers (FDHs) enjoy the same 
access as localworkers to the Hong Kong Labor Department's 
concliation services to arbitrate disputes with employrs. 
As part of an effort to prevent the exploitaion of FDHs, the 
Labor Department publishes "guiebooks" in several language 
that explain the rights and benefits of FDHs, legislative 
provisions guiding the operation of employment agencies, and 
services provided by the Department.  These guidebooks are 
handed out when workers apply for identity documents, and are 
distributed at strategic locations around the city, 
including: the airport, district offices, consulates, offices 
of labor and migrant groups, post offices and banks. 
Additionally, short "publicity messages" promoting the 
employment rights and benefits of FDHs are advertised in 
local newspapers (in various languages) and on television. 
 
23. (SBU) The Government's commitment to promoting equal 
opportunity and its policy of free, universal and compulsory 
 
HONG KONG 00000817  006.2 OF 011 
 
 
education through age 15, combine with Hong Kong's high 
standard of living to eliminate most conditions that would 
cause Hong Kong to be a source of trafficking in persons. 
This commitment is reflected in the Sex Discrimination 
Ordinance and the application of the Convention on the 
Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women 
(CEDAW).  The Hong Kong Women's Commission has the mission 
"To enable women in Hong Kong to fully realize their due 
status, rights and opportunities in all aspects of life." 
Hong Kong's strong rule of law, entrenched civil liberties, 
and vigorous law enforcement inhibit traffickers from using 
Hong Kong as a transit point or as a destination for human 
trafficking. 
 
Investigation and Prosecution of Traffickers 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
24. (SBU) Specific provisions in the Immigration Ordinance, 
the Crimes Ordinance, and other relevant laws enable law 
enforcement authorities to take action against trafficking in 
persons. For example, the Crimes Ordinance makes it an 
offense for a person to take part in "bringing another person 
into, or taking another person out of, Hong Kong for the 
purposes of prostitution," regardless of whether the other 
person consented, knew the purpose, or received any 
advantage.  This offense is punishable by up to 10 years' 
imprisonment. Additionally, under the Offences Against 
Persons Ordinance, traffickers who have detained a person 
against his/her will may be subject to heavier penalties, up 
to a maximum of life imprisonment -- a penalty comparable to 
that of rape under the Crimes Ordinance. 
 
25. (SBU) The Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance provides 
special powers of investigation of organized crime, deprives 
criminals of the proceeds of specified offenses, and allows 
the courts to impose enhanced sentences for specified 
offenses, which include human smuggling and forgery of travel 
documents.  The Immigration Ordinance enables enforcement and 
prosecution to prevent Hong Kong from being used as a 
springboard for smuggling persons to or through Hong Kong. 
Specific provisions outlaw (and provide for fines and prison 
sentences as shown) such activities as: arranging passage of 
unauthorized entrants into Hong Kong (up to $625,000 (HK$5 
million) and 14 years in prison); assisting unauthorized 
entrants to remain in Hong Kong (up to $62,500 (HK$500,000) 
and 10 years in prison); carrying an unauthorized entrant on 
board ship entering Hong Kong (up to $625,000 (HK$5 million) 
and 14 years in prison); using or possessing a forged, false 
or unlawfully obtained travel document (up to $18,750 
(HK$150,000) and 14 years in prison); and aiding and abetting 
any person to use such a document (up to $18,750 (HK$150,000) 
and 14 years in prison). 
 
26. (SBU) Prostitution is legal in Hong Kong, but a wide 
range of provisions under the Crimes Ordinance target the 
exploitation of prostitution in any form.  Offenses include 
living off the earnings of the prostitution of others, 
keeping a vice establishment, leasing premises for use as a 
vice establishment, permitting premises to be used for 
prostitution and putting up signs advertising prostitution. 
The Employment Ordinance provides that any employer who pays 
less than the salary prescribed in a contract, which salary 
must not be less than the legal minimum wage in the case of 
foreign domestic workers, can be fined up to HK$200,000 
(US$25,000) and imprisoned for up to one year.  Traffickers 
may also be prosecuted for blackmail under the Theft 
Ordinance (maximum penalty 14 years) or for detaining by 
fraud or force against a person's will under the Offences 
Against Persons Ordinance (maximum penalty life 
imprisonment).  Individuals engaging in activities related to 
trafficking are thus punished under several different laws. 
 
HONG KONG 00000817  007.2 OF 011 
 
 
As indicated in the overview, the Government has started to 
keep more complete documentation on cases prosecuted or 
convicted for activities that the Government believes may be 
related to trafficking. 
 
27. (SBU) The Immigration Department's Special Investigation 
Section and the Police Force's Organized Crime and Triad 
Bureau are the primary law enforcement units that investigate 
trafficking activities.  During the reporting period, these 
units conducted a series of simultaneous raids across Hong 
Kong focused on organized crime syndicates involved in 
trafficking women for prostitution.  The raids came after a 
10-month investigation and involved more than 300 uniformed 
and under-cover officers.  Police served 75 warrants on 
various premises, seizing financial records, bank accounts, 
and cash.  Nine people were arrested, with further arrests 
expected.  Police believe the syndicate was involved in 
recruiting sex workers from the mainland, arranging their 
travel and permits, housing them, and collecting a share of 
their earnings.  In 2004, 19 individuals were convicted for 
arranging/assisting passage of unauthorized entrants 
to/within Hong Kong with sentences ranging from 2 months to 
five years. 
 
28. (SBU) Hong Kong does not normally prosecute trafficking 
victims.  Women who agreed to act as a witness for the 
prosecution were as a rule granted immunity and allowed to 
return to their home country without being charged for 
illegal entry or breach of condition of stay.  The following 
2003 case illustrates how the Government typically uses its 
prosecutorial discretion as a means to identify and 
eventually prosecute the traffickers:  Six Thai females with 
valid travel documents were permitted to enter Hong Kong and 
stay as visitors.  They were later arrested by the police for 
breach of condition of stay by working as prostitutes. 
During the course of the investigation, four of them agreed 
to act as prosecution witnesses against their handlers.  They 
were later granted immunity by the Department of Justice. 
After the trial they were repatriated to Thailand.  The other 
two Thai females who refused to give evidence against the 
handlers were charged with breach of condition of stay.  They 
were sentenced to one week's imprisonment and were 
repatriated to Thailand after release from prison. 
 
29. (SBU) Hong Kong law enforcement agencies cooperate 
closely, extensively and successfully, and have long done so, 
with many other law enforcement jurisdictions, including the 
United States, European states, Australia, Canada and 
mainland China to combat human smuggling and trafficking. 
Recent examples of cooperation include:  In 2005, Ping 
Cheng-chui ("Sister Ping") was convicted in New York on human 
trafficking charges with the help of Hong Kong authorities. 
Cheng-chui had been extradited to the U.S. from Hong Kong in 
2003.  Another fugitive wanted in the U.S. for offenses 
related to human trafficking was extradited in 2004.  In 
February 2004, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement 
(ICE) Agency in Los Angeles acting on information from the 
Hong Kong Organized Crime and Triad Bureau via the Hong Kong 
ICE office intercepted a shipping container holding 19 
mainland Chinese men.  A Hong Kong man was arrested in the 
case and convicted in Hong Kong of "Obtaining Services by 
Deception" and "Aiding and Abetting in Stowaway" and 
sentenced to four years and two months in prison.  In 
September 2004, a smuggling syndicate which also engaged in 
illegal trafficking and production of forged documents was 
broken up by the Immigration Department in cooperation with 
the Guangdong Public Security Bureau (GDPSB).  In November 
2004, the Immigration Department in cooperation with the 
Japanese Consulate General in Hong Kong mounted an operation 
against a syndicate that helped Filipinos obtain fraudulent 
documents to take up illegal employment in Japan. 
 
HONG KONG 00000817  008.2 OF 011 
 
 
 
30. (SBU) Hong Kong has signed thirteen bilateral extradition 
agreements providing for surrender of fugitives, including 
for offenses related to trafficking in persons.  The 
U.S.-Hong Kong extradition agreement, in force since January 
1998, for example, provides that extradition requests shall 
be granted for such activities as dealing with trafficking in 
persons, immigration offenses, and arranging for financial 
gain the illegal entry of persons.  Three individuals 
suspected of involvement in human trafficking have been 
extradited to the U.S. in the past four years.  There is no 
bar to extradition of Hong Kong passport holders under these 
agreements, and several have been extradited to the United 
States and other countries. 
 
31. (SBU) There is no evidence or accusation of government 
involvement in trafficking at any level. 
 
32. (SBU) Under the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, most 
international treaties extended to Hong Kong as a colony of 
Britain continued to apply to Hong Kong after reversion on 
July 1, 1997.  Since 1997, new multilateral conventions can 
only be applied to Hong Kong with the assent of Hong Kong and 
its new sovereign, the PRC.  Thus three of the early 
international treaties on trafficking, the 1904, 1910 and 
1921 Conventions against "white slavery" and trafficking in 
women and children, apply to Hong Kong (even though not to 
China).  The 1933 and 1949 Conventions do not (as they were 
not ratified by the UK). The Convention for the Elimination 
of All Forms of Discrimination against Women has applied to 
Hong Kong since 1996 (and also applies to the PRC) and the 
Hong Kong Government submitted its initial report to the 
CEDAW Committee in October 1998 (through the Chinese central 
government, which transmitted the report unedited). 
 
33. (SBU) Of the general human rights instruments that 
prohibit slavery, the ICCPR in particular applies to Hong 
Kong, and the Government submitted its second ICCPR report in 
2005.  The Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of 
Slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices 
Similar to Slavery (1957), which in particular prohibits debt 
bondage, also applies to Hong Kong.  The PRC signed the UN 
Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, but did not 
sign either of the two related protocols.  The HK Government 
agreed in principle to have the Convention apply to Hong 
Kong.  The ILO Convention 182 Concerning the Prohibition and 
Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of 
Child Labor was applied to Hong Kong on August 8, 2002, and 
came into force August 8, 2003.  Forced labor conventions 
ILO29 and 105 have applied to Hong Kong without modification 
since June 3, 1931 and November 25, 1959, respectively.  The 
Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in 
Persons, Especially Women and Children has not been extended 
to Hong Kong, but the Government's stated policy is to pursue 
an integrated policy to combat, prevent and punish 
trafficking in persons effectively.  Hong Kong will seek 
accession to the "Sale of Children Protocol" by extension of 
China's future ratification, for which most legislative 
provisions are already in place.  The "Prevention of Child 
Pornography Bill," which was the final necessary law to 
comply with the Protocol, became effective in December 2003. 
The Ordinance prohibits the making, production, distribution, 
possession and advertising of child pornography, including 
those on the Internet, as well as procurement of children for 
making pornography.  The Ordinance creates offenses of 
arranging and advertising child sex tours, and applies 
extra-territorial effect on certain sexual offenses against 
children. 
 
Protection and Assistance to Victims 
------------------------------------ 
 
HONG KONG 00000817  009.2 OF 011 
 
 
 
34. (SBU) Hong Kong's professional and disciplined law 
enforcement officers, its highly developed and firmly 
established rule of law, independent judiciary, active human 
rights groups, and vigilant press corps contribute to a 
system in which trafficking victims can receive appropriate 
protection and assistance.  The Social Welfare Department and 
local NGOs offer an array of social services to victims of 
trafficking, as well as other categories of persons in need. 
Government-funded services -- by social welfare agencies and 
through NGOs -- including welfare and psychological 
assistance, as well as access to legal and medical services, 
are available to all trafficking victims.  These services are 
not targeted just toward trafficked persons, but are 
available to all victims of crimes and vulnerable persons. 
 
35. (SBU) Trafficking victims suspected of having committed 
offenses, such as a breach of condition of stay or using or 
possessing fraudulent travel documents, are offered food and 
basic necessities free of charge during their detention. 
They are also entitled to apply for free legal aid in both 
civil and criminal cases, as well as free medical treatment 
as necessary.  Recognizance in lieu of detention may be 
granted to such victims, taking into consideration the 
circumstances of each individual case.  In 2004, about 6,500 
illegal immigrants/overstayers referred to detention were 
released on recognizance pending repatriation.  Given that 
trafficked persons are not always singled-out among other 
victims, there is no estimate of how many such people were 
released on recognizance or otherwise assisted by the 
Government. 
 
36. (SBU) The Hong Kong Hospital Authority provides public 
medical services to trafficking victims, who enjoy the same 
rights as other patients.  The Department of Health operates 
Female Social Hygiene Clinics, which offer free services to 
all female sex workers without asking about their legal 
status in Hong Kong.  Four women's refuge centers (three 
subsidized NGOs and one run by the Social Welfare Department) 
serve victims of violence, abuse or exploitation, including 
trafficking victims.  These centers provide temporary free 
accommodations and counseling.  Refugee Center records 
indicate that trafficking cases (either self-identified or 
otherwise) seeking assistance are rare. 
 
37. (SBU) In addition, the Government-funded Family Crisis 
Support Center provides 24-hour support for victims, 
including trafficking victims.  The Center offers counseling, 
a resource center, hotline service and referrals to community 
groups.  To date, no trafficking victims have sought this 
service. 
 
38. (SBU) For vulnerable witnesses and victims of child 
abuse, the Social Welfare Department carries out joint 
investigations with the police according to a set of handling 
guidelines in place.  Clinical psychologists are involved 
whenever necessary.  The Social Welfare Department has had in 
place a Witness Support Program for vulnerable witnesses 
since 1996.  This program provides practical assistance and 
emotional support to reduce the fear and anxiety of the 
vulnerable witnesses during court proceedings.  The Witness 
Support program allows child victims of trafficking to give 
evidence through recorded video interviews or by live 
television link.  A woman who agrees to testify as a witness 
for the prosecution of a trafficker is as a rule granted 
immunity from prosecution herself; other forms of cooperation 
may be also taken into account in mitigation of any sentence 
she might receive.  Hong Kong's criminal Procedure Ordinance 
provides special procedures designed to protect vulnerable 
witnesses, including victims of trafficking. 
 
 
HONG KONG 00000817  010 OF 011 
 
 
39. (SBU) Trafficking victims also have access to the Hong 
Kong office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and of 
the International Organization for Migration, as well as 
local consulates.  With a growing array of social services 
available to those who are confirmed victims of trafficking, 
the Government's mounting ability to identify trafficked 
persons will increase the likelihood that possible 
trafficking victims receive appropriate assistance.  Illegal 
migrants are regularly arrested and prosecuted for illegal 
entry or stay in Hong Kong, use of forged documents, and the 
like.  If convicted, the individuals will be deported after 
they serve their sentence.  Prostitutes are usually arrested 
and prosecuted for breach of condition of stay and/or 
overstaying their visa (since prostitution is technically 
legal in Hong Kong).  Over the past year, authorities have 
taken steps to raise the awareness of front-line officers to 
trafficking in persons. 
 
40. (SBU) The Security Bureau has directed field offices to 
more carefully document cases and be more vigilant in their 
identification of possible trafficking victims.  This will 
facilitate the Government's efforts to extend assistance to 
these victims.  In most cases of possible victims of 
trafficking for forced prostitution the practice has been to 
return them home without charging them with an offense.  The 
Government does not fund the trip home.  However, the law 
allows the Government to consider, before making its decision 
to deport, whether a person would be jeopardized in the 
country to which he/she is to be removed. 
 
41. (SBU) The Government provides training to its police 
officers in the handling of vulnerable witnesses and victims. 
 A special unit within the Police Force is responsible for 
protection of vulnerable witnesses and victims.  Government 
social workers are trained to handle the trauma and 
psychological needs of all victims, including trafficked 
persons.  These social workers regularly take part in joint 
training with police officers on handling vulnerable 
witnesses and victims. 
 
42. (SBU) Various NGOs involved in the promotion of the 
rights of foreign domestic workers and/or sex workers in Hong 
Kong have demonstrated a willingness to work with trafficking 
victims.  These organizations accommodate and support victims 
in need.  NGOs such as Action for Reach Out and Zi Teng 
provide assistance and support to sex workers.  Both groups 
told us they have encountered no trafficking victims in the 
past year.  Zi Teng also produces research reports 
highlighting the special concerns of sex workers in the 
region and consults with the Government to explore solutions 
to the problems of sex workers.  The Asian Migrants 
Coordinating Body; the Association of Indonesian Migrant 
Workers; and other organizations also provide assistance and 
support services to migrant workers in Hong Kong. 
 
43. (SBU) In the case of foreign domestic helpers (FDH), the 
Labor Department (LD) encourages victims of employers 
violating contract or minimum wage regulations to come 
forward to assist prosecutors and, if necessary, to serve as 
prosecution witnesses.  The LD attaches great importance to 
protecting the rights and benefits of FDH's.  Should 
conciliation fail, an FDH can seek adjudication with the 
Labor Tribunal or the Minor Employment Claims Adjudication 
Board (MECAB), depending on the claim amount, like employees 
in other professions.  To step up prosecution action against 
breaches of the Employment Ordinance, including underpayment 
of wages, the LD set up the Employment Claims Investigation 
Unit to investigate wage offense complaints from both local 
workers and FDH's.  The LD publishes a leaflet in six 
languages for FDH's reference on criminal proceedings and to 
encourage them to come forward as prosecution witnesses.  The 
 
HONG KONG 00000817  011.2 OF 011 
 
 
LD provides a 24-hour telephone enquiry service for FDH's to 
call for information about available government services and 
assistance. 
 
44. (U) Post point of contact is poloff Donald Conner, Tel. 
(852)2841-2139, Fax (852)2526-7382; unclass email: 
connerdl@state.gov. 
 
Hours required to do the report: 
FS4 - 26 
FS2 ) 2 
FS1 - 2 
OC  - 1 
Cunningham 

Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04